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EXCLUSIVE: California’s Young’s Holdings’ Wilson Daniels Unit To Open East Coast Distributorship

July 30, 2015

California-based luxury wine and spirits marketer Wilson Daniels is set to open a new East Coast distribution arm this fall, Shanken News Daily has learned. Wilson Daniels Wholesale, as the new company will be known, will be a separate entity from Wilson Daniels’ importing and marketing unit. Based in a 5,400-square-foot space in New York City’s Flatiron District, Wilson Daniels Wholesale will begin operations September 1 with a workforce of at least 25 employees.

The new venture will be led by Chris Underwood as CEO, and the executive team will also include drinks industry veterans Benjy Kirschner as vice president, sales, and Kevin Murphy as vice president, operations.

“This is a big investment for the Underwood family, and an opportunity to expand the Wilson Daniels brand,” Underwood told SND. “If Wilson Daniels is going to succeed as a premier fine wine importer, we most certainly will need to succeed in New York, the country’s strongest market for premium wines on-premise.” Underwood noted that Wilson Daniels Wholesale has additional, as-yet-unnamed brands committed to its portfolio beyond the Wilson Daniels import stable.

While Wilson Daniels’ wholesale and import operations will remain separate, there will be opportunities to build synergies between the two entities, Underwood observes, explaining that an increased corporate presence in New York and New Jersey will be attractive to producers as Wilson Daniels seeks to further build its imported wine range. “We’re looking to garner more market share in those two states,” Underwood says. “And I think this gives Wilson Daniels’ import company more credibility with overseas suppliers.”

Wilson Daniels is a subsidiary of Young’s Holdings, Inc., whose Young’s Market Co. unit has wholesale operations across a broad swath of western states. California will account for about two-thirds of Young’s Market Co.’s total projected revenues of $2.9 billion in 2015, according to Shanken’s Impact Newsletter. In addition to California, Young’s Market Co. operates as a wholesaler in Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Hawaii, Alaska and Idaho (in descending order of revenue share), and also has control state brokerages in Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

Wilson Daniels’ import and marketing business—which includes Pierre Sparr, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Ponzi Vineyards and Coppersea Distilling, among many others—recently came under new leadership, as former Frederick Wildman & Sons president Rocco Lombardo moved to become president of Wilson Daniels in June. “Rocco has some grand plans, and we’re certainly looking for growth at Wilson Daniels’ import company, while making sure it remains a fine wine-focused business,” says Underwood. Champagne and other sparkling wines have been key growth drivers lately, he adds. “We anticipate premium Champagne and sparkling wine will continue to grow market share, and Wilson Daniels Wholesale will lead with our two anchors, Champagne Gosset and Schramsberg.”


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